The relationship between South Asia and the UK hasn't always been as harmonious as the airline adverts and tourist brochures at first suggest. But thankfully, for the most part, we've drawn influence and gained friendships from the Indian sub-continent, and vice-versa. Well, perhaps until the international cricket season pairs us with India, that is. Then, even if (or when) we lose a match, it's all down the curry mile for a 'Ruby' and a 'Cobra', right people?
Musical differences are not as quantifiable however. The UK charts are so devoid of real talent at the moment, I'm surprised South Asia doesn't impose sanctions in protest, while India's cultural outpourings often only reach the Great British Public when a Bollywood star appears on Big Brother or 'Tomorrow Never Knows' by The Beatles gets an airing on the radio. Such a rich and inspiring heritage, laid to waste you might think. Wrong. And here's one reason why. Alchemy 2012 is a festival that celebrates South Asian music, literature, performance and culture, way beyond the stereotypical limits normally set down by the media.
Now in its third year and held at London's South Bank Centre during April, the ten-day event will explore contrasts and similarities between the two regions, including visual arts exhibitions, yoga demonstrations, dance and literary events and conversations, as well as plenty of music. Highlights in April include acclaimed vocalist Susheela Raman (16th - £10), Asian Dub Foundation (12th - £10), Raghu Dixit and members of Bellowhead (18th and 19th - £10 to 320) and Toronto-based rapper Humble The Poet (14th - £10). You can see that most shows are no more than £10, giving you the chance to sample a few events across the two weeks.
If you're up for a more 'urban' vibe, check out Nihal's afternoon show on Saturday 14th April, dedicated to bring you the best in Asian Burban beats - all for £5. For something more restrained and traditional, head to the Sachal Jazz Ensemble gig on 17th April or singer Shankar Mahadevan and sitar-wizard Purbayan Chatterjee's collaboration on 21st April - again, the shows are just £10 each.